05 Feb 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
SENATE President Arnold A. Palacios said the introduction of S.2325 and H.R. 4689, both known as the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act, is the culmination of nearly 10 years of dialogue between the federal and CNMI governments regarding the pace and efficiency of the islands’ transition into the U.S. immigration system.
In a letter to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the other members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding S.2325, Palacios said he joins his fellow lawmakers in the CNMI in supporting the effort to extend the transition period as a means to grow the local economy and provide more opportunities for U.S. workers in the commonwealth.
“Over the course of these years,” he said, “I have served in various capacities which have dealt directly with…training qualified U.S. workers. In House Joint Resolution 20-7, you will see the formalization of the 20th Northern Marianas Legislature’s official support to amend U.S. Public Law 110-229 and allow for additional time to meet the mandate of the transition period and prevent economic collapse.”
Palacios added, “In the analysis performed by the Legislature and in reports regarding the CNMI’s current position in the transition period, inclusive of the most recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study on the matter, it is clear that the road before us is approaching a fork. One path leads us down a road of continuing growth, where our economy is normalizing and expanding beyond that of the years before our most recent economic collapse toward a future where U.S. citizens can find jobs and opportunities that will allow them to use their skills and where our people become less reliant on federal social programs such as food stamps and Section 8 housing.”
Palacios said “the other path is one of severe economic depression, historically low government revenues, decreased services to our people, limited opportunities and high rates of unemployment and poverty. Your consideration of this bill will decide which road we take and determine the fate of our economy and our community for years to come.”
Palacios said the 20th CNMI Legislature has made it its priority to be responsible partners in the transition.
“We have allocated local funding toward the training of our U.S. workers, implementing restrictions on the hiring of foreign workers in certain avenues for the distribution of CW worker fees,” Palacios said.
“We have seen successes in our efforts but our economy and our hopes for a self-sufficient community remain vulnerable to a dramatic loss of half of our total workforce…. It is a loss we simply cannot withstand. The passage of S. 2325 and H.R. 4869 will give us the ability to grow toward a strong and stable workforce of skilled U.S. workers. The 20th NMI Legislature stands ready to meet the challenge of the next phase in implementing necessary policies that will assist in meeting the mandates of the new law.”
He said CNMI lawmakers find that S.2325 and HR 4689 provide a reasonable solution to the islands’ current workforce needs to ensure economic stability and growth.
The Senate president also wrote a letter to the author of H.R. 4689, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, thanking him for introducing “critical legislation to ensure economic stability and more importantly to promote the public health and welfare of the people of the CNMI.”
Palacios likewise thanked Murkowski, Kilili, U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva, U.S. Congressman Rob Bishop and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell for giving him the opportunity to comment on the CW bills.
Bishop, R-Utah, chairs the U.S. Committee on Natural Resources while Grijalva, D-Arizona, is the panel’s ranking member. Cantwell, D-Washington, is the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources which Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairs.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/102012-senate-president-cw-bill-to-provide-more-opportunities-for-us-workers